The bride and groom made a beautiful couple. I congratulated them and said, “You guys are going to be great parents!” To my shock, they responded in unison, “Why would we want to bring children into this messed up world?” I gave them what I know were great responses but the atmosphere was toxic over the status quo in the world. Finally, I pointed them to a Billy Joel song that reflected on a history of troubled times. After they googled “Billy Joel”, the song got their attention.
The catalyst behind the song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was a discussion between Joel and a young man that had just turned 21 in 1989. The young man lamented, “It’s a terrible time to turn 21!” Joel replied, “Yeah, I remember when I was 21, I thought it was an awful time too. We had Vietnam, and y’know, drug problems, civil rights problems and everything seemed to be awful.” The young man responded, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but it’s different for you. You were a kid in the fifties and everybody knows that nothing happened in the fifties!” Joel retorted, “Wait a minute, didn’t you hear of the Korean War or the Suez Canal Crisis?” Joel proceeded to write the song with allusions to more than 100 headline events between 1949 and 1989. The chorus was, “We didn’t start the fire; It was always burning since the world’s been turning. We didn’t start the fire; No we didn’t light it but we tried to fight it.”
Headlines have always provided a dark perspective on the world. It is hard to hold onto the fact that news is news because it’s news. It is the exception not the rule but the atmosphere gets cloudy. With the introduction of the 24-hour news cycle and the internet, headlines become HEADLINES and the atmosphere can go toxic. The important thing to keep in perspective is that we are in control of and choose the atmospheric conditions we live under.
Atmospheric Choice: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” – Romans 8:15-17. Wow! We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ! Being a slave to fear is a choice to let the atmosphere of this world envelope and suffocate the spirit. Christians are to make better choices, to rebuke such schemes and stand firm in the Spirit of sonship.
What atmospheric choices are you making individually, in the home, at church and in your circles of influence?
Prayer guide: Lord, too often I dally in the toxic atmosphere of sensationalized news, talk shows and even inappropriate conversation. Grant me clarity to discern through the distractions and frustrations I face that lead to fear around my job, my family and my community. Empower me to rebuke this noise and stand firm in the Spirit of sonship for the sake of the next generation. Amen.
A faithful father makes atmospheric choices under the Spirit of sonship.